In Silver’s Comp
‘Bring a torch, Dick!’ Silver said.
Dick went out and brought a piece of wood from the fire. Now I saw my terrible situation: Silver and his men had the stockade; my companions weren’t there. And I was a prisoner.
‘Well!’ said Long John. ‘Jim Hawkins has come to visit us. That’s a nice surprise for old John.’ And he began to smoke his pipe. ‘I’ve always liked you, Jim boy.’ Silver continued. ‘You’ve got courage. But now you’re going to die. Your friends won’t help you. You ran away and you can’t go back to them. They don’t want you.’
So my friends were alive! I was very happy about this.
‘So you can decide, Jim,’ Silver said. ‘What do you want: to be with us — or to die?’
Death was very near now, and I was frightened. ‘Before I decide, can you tell me what happened here, and where my friends are?’ I asked.
Silver replied, ‘Yesterday morning Dr Livesey came to us with a white flag. He said to me, «The ship has gone. You’re finished, Cap’n Silver.» I looked and — yes, it was true. The ship wasn’t there! «All right, doctor,» I said. «We’ll talk.» So we talked. And here we are in the cabin with lots of food and brandy and wood for the fire. Your friends went away. I don’t know where they are. And you, Jim? Well, I said to the doctor, «How many are you?» «Four,» he replied. «One is wounded. And we don’t want to see Jim Hawkins again. He ran away and he can die if he wants!» Those were his words, Jim.’
‘Well, I know you’re going to kill me,’ I began, ‘But first I want to tell you my story. Here you are — no ship, no treasure, and a lot of men dead. Do you want to know who did it? It was I! I was in the apple barrel when you talked that night with Hands, and Dick, and the others. And it was I that cut the Hispaniola’s anchor. It was I that killed Israel Hands. It was I that took the ship to a place where you’ll never find her. I’m not frightened of you, John Silver. Kill me if you want. But if you kill me, you won’t have a witness I when you’re captured. If I live, I’ll help you and
I’ll save your lives.’
Then one of the pirates called Morgan took his knife.
‘Now you must die!’ he said to me.
‘Stop there!’ shouted Silver. ‘Who are you, Tom Morgan? Are you the cap’n here? No! I’m the cap’n — and don’t forget it!’
‘Tom is right,’ said another pirate. ‘You can go to hell, Silver!’
‘Do you want to fight with me?’ Silver shouted in a terrible voice. ‘Take a cutlass, all of you — if you want to die! Well, I’m waiting! Who wants to die?’
Not one man moved; not one man answered.
‘Well, I’m cap’n here because I can fight better than all of you,’ continued Silver. ‘I like that boy. He’s got a lot of courage — more courage than all of you! So? Who is going to kill him — eh?’
There was a long silence. Silver stood near me. He smoked his pipe and watched the others.
Then one of them said, ‘We want to go outside and talk about this.’
And the pirates walked out of the cabin.
‘Listen, Jim,’ Silver said quietly. ‘They’re going to kill me. Then they’ll kill you. But I want to help you. A moment ago, when you spoke with a lot of courage, I decided to help you. You help Hawkins and he’ll help you, I thought. The ship has gone and we’re all finished. But I’ll save your life and you’ll save mine.’
‘I’ll do what I can,’ I said.
‘Good boy, Jim! Listen. I’m not stupid. I’m with the squire now. You’ve got the ship. I don’t know how you did it, but I know when I’ve lost. I’m with you now.’ Silver took some cognac from a barrel. ‘Drink with me, Jim! They’re going to come back soon and then…’ He looked at the door nervously. Then he said, ‘Why did the doctor give me the map, Jim?’
I didn’t understand and I looked surprised.
‘Yes, he gave me the map,’ Long John said. ‘Why?’
Just then we heard the buccaneers outside. The door opened and the five men came in. One of them walked slowly towards us. He had something in his right hand.
‘Come on, I won’t eat you!’ said Long John.
The buccaneer gave a piece of paper to Silver. He looked at it.
‘The black spot!’ he said.
‘Yes, John Silver!’ said a buccaneer called George.
‘You’ve got the black spot. You’re finished now. You’re not a good cap’n. You did things badly. You talked with the doctor and now they’re free. And then there’s this boy. We’re going to be arrested, we’ll all die on the gallows. And why? Because you did things badly!’
‘Me? Well, you didn’t do what I wanted, you didn’t listen to me. And now look at our situation! We’ll all die on the gallows in London. Who did it? You did it! And now you want to kill me?’
Silver was very angry and his voice was strong. The pirates listened well.
‘We’re all going to die and the birds will eat us,’ he continued. ‘Thanks to you! And the boy? He’s our prisoner, he’s our hostage. Are we going to kill our hostage? He’ll help us when we’re prisoners in London. He’s our last hope! Kill him? Not I, mates! Look at you, John. You’re wounded. And you, George, you’re ill with fever. So what did I do? I didn’t kill the doctor. No, I talked with him, and now he comes every day and helps you. Did I do things badly? Well, look — look at this!’